Mali’s opposition coalition disapprove of ECOWAS demands

Mali’s opposition leaders said on Friday they were disappointed by the conditions imposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) heads of state at an extraordinary meeting on how to transfer power from a military junta to a civilian government.

The opposition leaders said it was up to the people of Mali to decide who would lead the transitional government and when they should hold elections.

They spoke during a ceremony in the capital Bamako that paid tribute to the protesters killed in weeks of demonstrations last month that eventually led to the deposing of president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

ECOWAS told the military junta, which seized control on Aug. 18, that it must transfer power to a civilian-led transitional government immediately and hold elections within a year.

In exchange, the ECOWAS committed to gradually lift sanctions as the coup leaders complied with its demands, the bloc’s chairman said.

ECOWAS suspended Mali from its institutions, shut borders and halted financial flows with the country following the overthrow of Keita.

A member of the opposition coalition M5-RFP and former presidential candidate, Professor Clement Dembele, said ECOWAS needed to revise its position.

“We are not against a three year transition, we are not opposed to having a military or a civilian (in charge),” he explained.

A spokesman for the junta, Djibrila Maiga, said its leaders were still studying the bloc’s decisions.

The junta leaders said after taking power that they acted because the country was sinking into chaos, insecurity and corruption, blaming poor leadership.

The soldiers behind the coup were anxious to get the sanctions lifted and, as a gesture of goodwill, released Keita on Thursday (August 27) and allowed him to return home.

On Saturday the Junta will be holding marathon talks and consultations with all the stakeholders at a conference centre in Bamako to discuss the ECOWAS list of demands.